Guest blogger: Dorothy Byers Lorenze
One Saturday morning I was watching Produce Pete – the veggie guru on the NBC New York affiliate station who chats about seasonal fruits and vegetables each week.
On that day, Pete was expounding on the glory of asparagus and he stuck the stalks in a glass of water, held it aloft and proclaimed, “THIS is how you keep asparagus fresh!”
It made me smile as I admired the elegance of upright asparagus.
I decided to take on the challenge of painting asparagus stalks refracted in water. I liked the result and, in appreciation, I called the painting Tribute to Produce Pete and wrote about it on my blog.
About three months later I got a phone call from a guy who said he was Produce Pete from NBC. Thinking it was a prank, I nearly hung up. Fortunately, he said the magic words, “I want to buy your painting,” and I stayed on the line.
Apparently he had Googled himself (doesn’t everybody?) and found my tribute painting to him! Not only was he calling to buy it, he wanted me to come to New York to present it to him ON AIR … at NBC … in New York City!
If I had titled this painting Asparagus Stalks in Water, this opportunity would have never come my way.
In spite of an extreme case of stage fright, I talked myself into it and began worrying about important things – like what to wear!
It was all a bit scary and I immediately thought I’d better placate the gods of marketing and serendipity by giving back somehow.
In gratitude for being handed this unexpected gift of exposure, I decided to donate 20% of all paintings sold for the next 6 months to Edge of Seven, an organization I admire that facilitates equal education opportunities for girls in the mountains of Nepal.
And, We’re Live
Being on Produce Pete’s segment was a great experience. He was thrilled to meet me!
The NBC crew loved my painting, set it up on an easel, and projected an enlarged image as a backdrop for the segment.
The station posted my website URL on the screen during the show, but, in an unlucky twist of fate, the website was misspelled.
I did not become instantly famous as the Next Best Still-Life Painter on the Planet. My 15 minutes of fame were more like 15 seconds, but it turned into an excellent marketing opportunity in the end.
Capitalizing on My 15 Seconds of Fame
After being on Produce Pete I wrote to a local reporter about the experience and she interviewed me for a story with photos of my paintings.
A businessman saw the local article and invited me to hang some paintings in his space. During that exhibition, I sold eight paintings!
I’ve now been invited to exhibit at the same venue regularly and my mailing list has grown. In addition, publicity about the Edge of Seven donation generated yet more interest, more subscribers signed up for my blog, and I began to sell paintings directly from blog posts.
I feel a new sense of confidence having taken steps toward making my artwork more accessible and visible.
Still, I wouldn’t recommend counting on a TV appearance to make a mark with your artwork. What I would recommend is to always be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they happen and maximize those events by generating more publicity where you can.
I could have let the New York NBC gig be the end of my story, but I had a feeling that it was only the beginning.
The big lesson here, in addition to paying attention to the titles you give your work, is that you can build momentum after a single exposure in the media. Being on television enhanced my credibility in the region.
When you are blessed with publicity about your work, ask, “What can I do with this now?” or “Who else might be interested in this story?”
Have you been on live TV? What did you learn from your experience?
Dorothy Byers Lorenze paints still lifes at her studio in Somers, New York. She is attracted to the shapes, translucency, texture, and reflection of everyday objects. Follow her blog and become a fan on Facebook.